Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, who has been preaching the formula of development, came up with new Lokayukta Bill in the state assembly giving all powers to a selection committee in the appointment of the Lokayukta. However, there will be no major role of the Chief Justice of the state high court and Governor in the selection and appointment process.
The saffron party leader, who is likely to be the prime ministerial candidate in the next Lok Sabha polls, played his best game making the Chief Justice and Governor toothless in the appointment of the Lokayukta. The Lokayukta Aayog Bill, 2013 gives all powers to a selection panel, which will be headed by the Chief Minister. The Governor will only act on the recommendations of the committee.
It suggested that CM will be all in all in selecting and appointing the Lokayukta. According to the Bill, the Lokayukta will have to seek permission from the government before acting on a complaint. If a complaint is found to be false, the complainant will have to pay Rs 2000 to Rs 25,000 as a fine and may be jailed upto six months.
Though, the Bill was introduced to check corruption in the state, the corrupt politicians and bureaucrats may not be punished. Gujarat Congress President Arjun Modhwadia criticised it alleging Modi can now declare any accused as innocent. The bill was later passed by the Assembly where Modi enjoys absolute majority.
The Bill can be seen as a vendetta after the state government lost the judicial battle against the appointment of Justice Mehta as the State Lokayukta. Modi had challenged the appointment by the Gujarat Governor Kamla Beniwal, but it was later upheld by both the High Court and Supreme Court in January this year. Seems like Modi will not allow Justice Mehta to take charge as the state Lokayukta.